One for the Dinner Table

While we were having dinner the other night at the Mango Hut, I was reminded of a story at which I hinted to my assembled dining friends and acquaintances. Simultaneously, a fair amount of spiritual development encouraged me to withhold the telling of that story while a group of relatively mature adults were seated at dinner, particularly an ethnic dinner quite foreign to most of the attending palettes.

Unlike my own family, most people do not save their most unsavory stories and jokes for the dinner table. The very parents who brought me into this world would wait until we were gathered around the family dinner before launching into, “You’ll never guess what ___________ said in the teacher’s lounge this afternoon,” or, “__________ brought up the grossest thing at lunch.” This would cue the re-telling of the foulest, the crudest, and the least appropriate jokes and anecdotes to which a young pair of ears could possibly be exposed. I have come to understand that many in the civilized world do not appreciate, and in fact, actively experience a gag reflex when I mimic the activities of my parents.

Anyways, my tale takes place back in Guam, where I grew up. It was also a place where I discovered some of the finer points of being a drunk. Anyways, one night I was coming home from a particularly besotted night out. On the way, I was overcome by this intense craving for chocolate ice cream, and fortunately, the grocery store near my house had very late hours and a very generously wide freezer case. I stumbled into the blinding fluorescent lights from the dark night and down the aisles to the freezer section.

At this point, I should mention that, as with most freezer sections, the case was not exclusively devoted to storing ice cream. Other frozen sundries could also be found in this case. Being Guam, there were items particular to the intricacies of preparing Filipino and Micronesian “cuisines.” Cruelly, some of these are stored directly along-side the ice creams, in plastic tubs that are indistinguishable, to the drunken eye at least, from the yummy, creamy frozen treats.

Therefore, too drunk to take proper note of the bemused expression of the check-out lady, I made the purchase of my craving and headed home. Upon arrival, I dropped my wallet and keys, kicked off my shoes, grabbed a spoon from the dish-drainer by the sink, and settled in to enjoy my post-midnight snack. I raised the spoon to my lips, all anticipation of the chocolate creaminess. I luxuriated in pulling it off the spoon with my tongue.

It was at this moment that I discovered that the tub of chocolate ice cream I paid for was in fact a tub of beef bile, used in God-knows-what dish enjoyed by some imaginary islander. I have yet to meet a single person who ever purchased such an ingredient; other such ingredients in the freezer section included pork blood and beef blood. Yes, these are stored in poorly labeled tubs identical to the adjacent ice cream selections. My taste buds exploded, followed shortly by an explosion of the contents of my stomach and the unsettling on-rush of a cruelly induced sobriety.